j B M 517 527
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PUBLICATIONS
AMERICAN ARCHAEOLOGY AND ETHNOLOGY
Vol. 14 , No. 4, pp. 437-488, plates 22-23, 3 figures in text March 11,1919
THE WINTUN HESI CEREMONY
S. A. BARRETT
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PUBLICATIONS
AMERICAN ARCHAEOLOGY AND ETHNOLOGY
Vol. 1 4, No. 4, pp. 437-488, plates 22-23, 3 figures in text March 11, 1919
THE WINTUN HE SI CEREMONY
S. A. BAEEETT
The Hesi ceremony of 1906 - 441
First day 441
Poles and Moki cloak -- 441
Setting the poles - 442
Preparations for the first dance -- 445
The Tuva - 446
The Tcelitu - 447
The first Tuya dance - 447
The Moki dance 451
Second Tuya dance 454
Second day 454
Sweat dance 454
Eeception of visitors 455
Tuya dance 457
Clowns - 457
Allotment of dance house places 458
Singing by invited individuals 458
Visitors Tuya dance .. 460
Feast oration 460
Further Tuya, sweat, and Moki dances ~ 461
Third day - - 462
Morning dances 462
Speeches of instruction 462
Other morning dance 464
Afternoon dances 464
Orations .. 465
Final dance 472
Fourth day - 472
Farewell oration ... 472
Additional speeches and songs ... 475
The hand game 482
438 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 14
The Wintun Indians formerly occupied a territory lying, in the
main, between the Sacramento river and the crest of the Coast Range
of California. 1 While the subdivisions of the stock have not been
exactly determined, there appear to have been three major languages,
usually called the Northern, Central, and Southern. Within the South
ern speech there were at least two dialects, whose distribution on the
whole conformed to the topographical differences between the open
Sacramento valley and the foothill and mountain region. These two
dialectic groups may be designated as the Southeastern and South
The culture of the Southwestern Wintun seems to be more closely
related to that of the Porno adjacent on the west than to that of the
Maidu, who are separated from them by their own Southeastern kins
men. This fact appears clearly in the arts and industries. The mortu
ary customs of both the Southwestern Wintun and Porno favored cre
mation but omitted the celebration of a mourning anniversary. The
Maidu buried the dead but held an annual "cry" or "burning" in
On the other hand, the ceremonial system of the two southern
Wintun divisions, while of the general type common to the Indians of
a large part of central California, appears to have had closer relation
to the religious organization of the Maidu than of the Porno. This is
instanced by the Wintun and Maidu both practicing a Hesi ceremony,
which the Porno lacked.
Among the Southwestern Wintun of Colusa and Yolo counties,
there still persists, or did until recently, something of the old organiza
tion of ritual dances, namely, a regular series of ceremonies extending
from fall to spring. Formerly, this began and closed with perform
ances of the hesi huya about the first of October and first of May. Of
late years, the initial hesi hiiya has been replaced by a subsidiary rite,
the toto huya, but the spring Hesi continues to be made.
The object of all the ceremonies, but especially of the Toto and
the Hesi, is primarily to insure plentiful wild harvests and secondarily
to secure the health and general prosperity of the people. The per
formance of the Toto is believed to assure an abundance of "green
foods," such as "Indian potatoes," by which is meant Brodicea,
Calochortus, and other bulbs, as well as the plants whose foliage is
Present series, vi, 284-289, maps 1 and 2, 1906.
1919] Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony 439
eaten. The Hesi is thought to produce "ripe foods" in plenty: grass
seeds, manzanita berries, and especially acorns.
At intervals during the months between these two major cere
monies, there occur six others 2 of lesser importance, which are usually
celebrated simply by each village, whereas for the Toto and the Hesi
the people of neighboring villages are invited. These minor ceremonies
are : keni, lole, sedeu or coyote, silai or grizzly bear, kuksu, and
The ceremonies bearing these names occur in the order given and
must be carefully distinguished from dances and dancers of the same
names. In general, any dance may be introduced into any ceremony.
In addition to the dances bearing the same names as the ceremonies,
there are other dances, which do not correspond in designation to any
ceremony. These are the waima, sill, salalii, and gllak. This makes
about a dozen dances and eight ceremonies. The word for dance is
tono, for ceremony huya. 3
What dances shall be made during any one ceremony seems to be
left largely to the volition of the participants, particularly the director,
who appears to be usually also a shaman of some reputation. The par
ticular dance named after a ceremony is always made some time dur
ing the ceremony, but a selection of other dances is usually also given,
without any set rule as to their order within the ceremony. Between
the eight regular ceremonies, gatherings without especial religious
significance and devoted chiefly if not wholly to pleasure, may also
be held. In these assemblies any or all of the twelve named dances
are made, but without association as a ceremony. Such an occasion
is known by the same name as a single dance, tono, as opposed to the
huya or complex of dances made with a sacred purpose.
Of the two major ceremonies, the Toto and the Hesi, the latter is
the more important. It lasts four days and nights, and is the one
ceremony whose regulations all residents and visitors observe scru
pulously. In recent years its particular form and exact date are
determined annually by the spiritual visit of a shaman to the abode of
the dead, ~bole wttak* where instructions are received by him from
2 There may have been a greater number before aboriginal customs were
3 Huya means to gather or assemble. Strictly there is no Hesi dance but Tuya
and Moki dances in the Hesi ceremony.
* Bole is the ghost of a dead person ; saltu, a spirit. The Southwestern Win-
tun distinguish their modern ceremonies, which contain a bole or ghost element
(allied to the "Ghost Dance movement" prevalent about 1890 among the eastern
Indians of the United States), from the older ceremonies which were free of such
440 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 14
Katit* who controls the world at large, as well as the domain of
departed human spirits.
The following pages describe a Hesi ceremony celebrated by the
Wintun of the village Let, in Cortina valley, Colusa County, in the
western foothill region of the great Sacramento valley, from May 5
to 8, 1906 less than a month after the earthquake that preceded the
fire which destroyed San Francisco. The earthquake was felt strongly
in Cortina valley and was interpreted by the Indians as a sign of the
great displeasure of Katit with the world and its people. This cere
mony was therefore attended more widely than had been customary
for some years, and thus afforded an excellent opportunity for observa
tion. The author attended the ceremony to record its salient features
for the University of California; and, in the summer of 1907, was
enabled to obtain from the old director and shaman, Salvador, or Sasa,
whose trance had preceded the performance, explanations of a number
of its features, as well as phonographic records of the speeches made
by him in its conduct and of the several songs used.
Frank Wright, a man then of about thirty-five years, who spoke
good English, served in this ceremony as Salvador s chief assistant,
and on the latter s death a few years later succeeded him as principal
director of the Hesi among the "Wintun of the region. He furnished
the author with information during the progress of the ceremony;
and he served as interpreter for Salvador when the phonograph records
were secured. As many as possible of the speeches and songs were
transcribed by the author and translated for him by Mr. Wright on
this occasion. In 1909 Dr. A. L. Kroeber had opportunity to verify
these transcriptions and to obtain translations of the remaining
records. This work was done by him with Mr. Thomas Odock, a South
eastern Wintun, who understands the Southwestern dialect of Cortina
and is himself conversant with the Hesi through the instruction of
Since the ceremonial dance system of the Maidu Indians of Chico
was very similar in its outlines and in many details to that of the
Southern Wintun, and since the former has been described by Dr.
Roland B. Dixon, 6 it is unnecessary to repeat here the features com
mon to all the dances of the region. Such matters as the structure of
the dance house, the use made of the center post, the performance of
the Moki, and the like, which are practically the same for all the
rituals of several ethnic groups, will therefore be assumed as familiar
Katit is a species of hawk.
The Northern Maidu, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat, Hist., xvn, 283-333, 1905.
1919] Barrett: TJie*-Wintun Hesi Ceremony 441
to the reader, and the account that follows is restricted to descriptions
of the ceremony witnessed and explanations secured from the Indians.
In short, this paper is primarily a record of information that may
never again be obtainable. It is not an attempt to elucidate a part of
a complex religious scheme with reference to the system as a whole.
THE HESI CEREMONY OF 1906
A few r days after the earthquake, Salvador suddenly went into a
trance and on his awakening announced that he had journeyed to bole
wilak, "ghost world," and that Katit had directed him to announce to
his village that on a certain day, which was Saturday, May 5, all must
assemble for the Hesi, and to invite the Indians of the adjacent parts
of the Sacramento valley, and the Porno and Wintun of Cache creek,
Sulphur Bank, and Upper Stony creek.
Friday, May 4, and the forenoon of the first day of the ceremony,
Saturday, May 5, were spent by Salvador and one of his assistants in
the preparation of ceremonial poles, head dresses, rattles, and the like.
Most of these paraphernalia only needed rejuvenating, since they had
been kept over from the ceremonies of the year before. The work on
them was done in the dance house.
POLES AND MOKI CLOAK
These ceremonial objects consisted of the following pieces. There
was a pole about 25 feet long, with a small bunch of feathers at its
apex and near this a sort of banner of pieces of colored cloth. It was
also wound about its entire length with cloth of different colors. This
pole was to be erected in front of the dance house entrance and was the
most important of the ceremonial objects. There were three smaller
poles, also decorated with variously colored cloth, for use about the
feasting table. Further, there were a short cloth-wound pole, and a
cylinder of black cloth twelve or fifteen inches high and eight or ten
inches through ; both for the roof top of the dance house. All these
objects were called bole sak, and while prepared without any special
ceremony, were placed in their respective positions with singing and
442 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 14
The only other strictly sacred object used was the long cloak worn
by the moki performer. In earlier times, this cloak was a net of eagle
feathers and covered the wearer completely from head to foot, except
that small openings were left through which he might see to make his
way about. In the present instance the network was replaced by gunny
sacking and the feathers by strips of cloth, so that the costume was
but a sorry representative of the aboriginal form.
SETTING THE POLES
As each of the ceremonial objects was completed in the dance house,
it was placed 011 the floor just south of the center post. They were
then placed in position in the following manner and order :
The large pole was first placed in position in its permanent hole in
front of the dance house. With an ordinary digging stick, Salvador,
who will hereafter be designated as the director, removed the cobble
stones with which the hole had been filled to keep it from crumbling
from year to year. He then took a six-foot cocoon rattle, called
cokokai, and rattled four times over the hole, crying in each case a
long drawn out "he." Toward the end of each call his voice gradually
fell in volume. He stretched his rattle the first time toward the west,
that is, the dance house, then to the south, then the east, and finally
the north. 7 In each instance he stood on the opposite side of the hole
and extended his rattle across it. Thereupon he stepped back toward
the east, and setting the end of the rattle on the ground shook it in
time to the tcoll muhl song, which he sang until the pole was in place.
tco lule wile tco lule huyama tco lule
stand up healthy stand up assemble stand up
As the director began this song, his assistant commenced the cere
mony of taking the pole from the dance house to place it in position.
From just back of the center post of the dance house, he slowly walked
completely around the recumbent pole and to the south of the butt
of the pole (fig. 1, A). Here he stopped, faced west, raised his right
hand over his head and slightly forward, and gave a long "he,"
toward the end of which he let his voice, and simultaneously his hand,
7 West, south, east, north is the invariable ceremonial circuit of the Hesi, at
any rate with reference to the directions faced.
s University of California Museum of Anthropology phonograph number
14-1505; words transcribed by A. L. Kroeber, translated by Thomas Odock.
Said to be the composition of the singer, Salvador. Tcoli muM means l inanimate-
object-standing-erect song," that is, pole or stump song.
Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony
fall very slowly, and blew two short blasts upon a double bone whistle,
toka. He then turned completely around, made another circuit about
the pole, and repeated the same cry, motions, and whistling at the same
point as before, but facing in turn south, east, and north. Next, he
circled rapidly four times round the pole, continuously blowing short
Bitualistic course of the director s assistant before removal of the long pole
from the dance house.
Second course about the pole.
blasts on his whistle, stopped at the foot of the pole, made a motion to
pick it up, and turned completely around. This he also did four times
(fig. 2). The fifth time, he actually picked the pole up, carried it out,
circled four times about the hole prepared for it, stopped on the east,
held the pole up toward the west, turned himself around, and repeated,
extending the pole south, east, and northward. He now walked once
University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Etlin. [Vol. 14
around the hole and pointed the base of the pole at it four times. The
fifth time, he actually inserted the butt and tamped it firmly into place.
He then joined the director, and the pair, facing the now erected pole,
sang the following tcupa song for several minutes :
/ Tcupa Song
The refrain, indicated in the text by "A," is:
tcenti weni tcenwe r tcenwe r
down arrive down-come down-come
wile leluro mi
mato wole na -
tcalal wole wole b
tcalal wole na weni
tcalal wole wole Lami
mato wole wole Lami
wile leluro V f -
mato wole Lami
tcalal wole Lami
Crying "he," the pair sang a few more words of the song, and then
called "he, he, he, he," bending themselves toward the pole four times.
This entire act of setting the pole is said to be a notification to Katit
and his associates among the dead that the preparations had been
made and that the Hesi was about to be celebrated as directed.
The director now resumed his singing in the same place, while his
assistant entered the dance house for the rain fetish and the food
fetish. The former was the above mentioned four-foot, wrapped pole,
tufted with cloth and feathers; the latter, the cloth-covered cylinder.
Feathers tied to projections at the top of this gave it somewhat the
appearance of a high crown. The bringing out of these two objects
was attended with much less ceremony. The assistant merely carried
9 Eecord 14-1506, Odock-Kroeber transcription. Composed by Salvador.
i This refrain frequently occurs three or four times over in the song where
"A" has been written only once. Many of the other phrases are repeated.
11 Glossary: wile, healthy; leluro, make, become; mi, you; mato, your; tcalal,
rose, pretty, beautiful; wole, floor of dance house; weni, arrive.
1919] Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony 445
them on the roof of the dance house (blowing his double whistle con
tinuously, while the director sang) , and circled sixteen times about the
roof around a diameter of twenty or twenty-five feet, holding the
fetishes up in the four usual directions once after each four revolutions.
However, he extended them toward the north four times instead of
once. He then set the stick in the roof a little northwest of the center,
slipped the cylinder over the stick on the roof, descended, still blow
ing his whistle, rejoined the director, and sang with him for a short
The director now went into the dance house and set about prepar
ing his ceremonial cloak and certain dance paraphernalia.
Two assistants meanwhile set the three smaller poles at the ends of
the feasting table, with the following procedure. All three poles were
first leaned against the eastern end of the table and a sub-assistant,
standing a short distance off, began to sing the tcupa song. He accom
panied with a split stick instead of the cocoon rattle, but it is said that
this substitution had no significance. The chief assistant passed contra-
clockwise four times around the table and poles, turned completely
round, reversed his direction, circled about four times clockwise, and
turned again, all the time blowing rapidly upon his double whistle.
He then took the two poles which were to be set east of the table, and
carried them four times around in each of the same directions, waving
them four times over the table after each set of circlings. He then
passed four times around the holes dug for them, turned himself
around again, motioned four times as if to set them, turned again, then
put them in, passed four times around both, turned once more, and
finally took a position beside the singer and accompanied him for a
minute or two. They then both cried "yn," sang a few moments
more, and ended with "ha, ha, ka, ha," bending toward the poles with
The pole for the western end of the table was then taken up and
set with the same cycle of movements and songs. This placing of the
poles ended shortly after noon of May 5.
PEEPAEATIONS FOE THE FIEST DANCE
About two o clock, the director went on the roof of the dance house
and cried a prolonged and loud "he" successively in the four ritual
directions, waiting fifteen or twenty minutes between each call. This
crying is said to have notified Katit as well as the Indians present that
the preparations were complete. Returned to the dance house, the
446 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Efhn. [Vol. 14
director continued his work on the dance regalia until about sundown,
when he ascended again to the roof and cried as before, this time with
even greater force.
In the early part of the evening of May 5, the fire was lighted in
the dance house and kept burning low. About nine o clock the people
of the village (the visitors having not yet arrived) assembled inside,
while four men dressed themselves for the dance just outside the rear
or western door of the house. Three of these men wore the tuya
costume or "big-head," as it is currently called in English, and the
fourth the tcelitu.
The chief feature of the tuya is a skull cap or ana* 2 of shredded
tule (Lei) into which are stuck a large number of long, slender willow
rods, decorated with feathers. These plumes are called tcalalj "roses,"
and the whole head-dress, saltu. 13 This is often three feet in diameter
and half as high. The plumes mostly pointed forward, and those in
front downward, hiding the face of the dancer. Frequently also, small
twigs are stuck into the front of the tule cap so as to hang down
directly in front of the face and complete its concealment. Among
the plumes, four, called kewe, of extra length and with special feather
ing, are forced down through the tule cap and into the wearer s head
net or ticin, thus serving to keep the entire head-dress in place. One or
more skewers (paka) also hold the cap to the net. From another
skewer at the back there hang a pair of long yellowhammer quill bands
(pit), almost reaching to the ground and floating out in the rapid
motions of the dance. About the neck is suspended a small double
whistle, t oka, usually made of wing bones of the chicken hawk.
The body of the tuya dancer is bare to the waist. Formerly, only a
clout was worn below. At present, some article of civilized clothing
is worn about the lower part of the body, with an improvised clout,
such as a bandana handkerchief, tied over it. From the waist to the
knee there is a kind of skirt made of thin cloth, on which are sewed
variously shaped bits of cloth of different colors. This is a degenerate
substitute for the feather skirt of the old days.
In ancient times, the exposed parts of the body were painted black
with sika, 1 * paint of charcoal or black mud. There were no definite
is At least so informants stated. As saltu means spirit they were evidently
naming the head-dress as the most distinctive feature of the impersonation.
!4 Southeastern Wintun : silca, grizzly bear ; also the name of a ceremony
among these people.
1919] Barrett: The Wintun Eesi Ceremony 447
designs, whole areas such as the face or chest being colored, although
narrow bands were sometimes drawn. This body decoration seems
not to have had any special signification. At present very little paint
ing is done.
A split stick rattle, tcakatta, in each hand completes the outfit of
the tuya dancer, except that in certain cases the wrists are bound
together with a stout cord. Only certain individuals have their wrists
tied. The Indian explanation of the practice is that it prevents cramps
due to the violence of the dancing.
In this first dance, two of the three tuya danced in their tule caps,
the feathered rods for the head-dresses not having been completed in
The fourth of the company, the tcelitu, who was to start and stop
the tuya dancers and direct their movements, wore neither the large
head-dress nor the imitation feather skirt. He had on a down-filled
head net (pute) and toward the back of the top of the head a tuft of
magpie feathers (toiti) fastened with skewers. Across his forehead
he wore a "short" yellowhammer head band (taluk) and about his
neck a necklace (hiiti). His body was bare to the waist. In his left
hand he carried a bow, (nun), and in his right a quiver (koltcis), con
taining arrows (nuko). At least he carried them constructively. In
reality, a skin folded over a stick represented the quiver full of arrows,
and another stick the bow.
THE FIRST TUYA DANCE
At about ten o clock, everything being in readiness, the dancers
blew their whistles and the director and others who were inside the
dance house cried "he" and commenced a song, to which the dancers
stepped in time as they circled about the point where they had dressed
outside the dance house. This circle was about fifty feet in diameter,
and after four revolutions, all went to the front door, where they
rattled their split sticks loudly and finally entered. They then
marched, without dancing, four times around the floor, going as near
as possible to the side posts which divided the space reserved for
dancing from that occupied by the spectators ( see fig. 3 ) . They next
marched once around the center pole alone, after which the three tuya
went out into the tunnel of the front door and later, upon receiving a
448 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and EtJin. [Vol. 14
signal from the tcelitu, danced back into the main part of the house,
just as they would dance in during an ordinary dance, which is usually
not preceded by the circling about the inside of the dance house.
The music for this dance was furnished by one or more air singers,
called koliu, provided with cocoon rattles, several burden or chorus
singers, called tcoklwin, each provided with a split stick rattle, and one,
or sometimes two drummers, called tlnel, who usually stamp with their
bare feet upon the large hollowed section of a log used as a drum
(tcobok). Sometimes the drummers use a large stick (tok), which
they strike vertically upon the drum much as a workman uses a tamper.
The positions about the drum of these three classes of musicians are
shown in figure 3 ; the air singers are designated by two small triangles,
the chorus singers by a number of small crosses, and the drummers by
two squares upon the drum itself. The air singers carry the melody,
accompanying it with the swishing sound of their cocoon rattles, while
the chorus adds volume with a loud "he, he, he/ accompanied by the
clack of the split sticks upon the palms of the left hands.
The signal to begin is given by the tcelitu with a motion of his
quiver. After the singing of what might be termed an introductory
verse, he signals one of the tilya to dance. This the dancer does by
suddenly whirling around from his position in the tunnel and moving
very rapidly with high steps back and forth between the two side posts
nearest the door (fig. 3, MN). He dances in a bent posture with his
stick rattles extended before him and crossed lightly near their free
ends. Thus, the lower half of the upper and the upper half of the
lower rattle form the bases upon which the other halves of the rattles
strike in their vibrations. They are shaken at frequent intervals, the
dancer usually squatting very low as he rattles. As he reaches either
end of his short course, he squats low and whirls suddenly about and
dances rapidly to the opposite end. His long yellowhammer streamers
are thus thrown out and float and flutter behind him as he moves from
end to end. At the same time he shakes his head from side to side
in time with the music to keep the long plumes of his head-dress
trembling, especially when he rattles.
The tcelitu meanwhile stands at the back of the dance house, near
the singers, arid, when he deems it proper, gives the signal for the
change in the dance. This he does by running up to the singers with
his " quiver" high in the air and bringing it suddenly down with a
loud and long "hlyo," the chorus singers bowing and shouting in
unison with him. The air singers, however, continue their melody
uninterruptedly, and the chorus is immediately taken up again. The
1919] Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony 449
tcelitu then dances, with the high rapid step already mentioned, back
and forth directly in front of the singers space (fig. 3, XY) for a few
minutes, after which he runs rapidly to the singers and shouts "Myo"
one or more times, bringing his quiver down and bending his body as
before. Most frequently he gives this signal as "hiyo, lilyo, My 6,
hiyo," the last utterances being longest and most emphatic. Again
the chorus singers shout in unison with him, all facing the air singers.
The latter still continue their air and are again rejoined by the chorus
as the tcelitu resumes his dance, which he does for some minutes over
the same course as before. After this he moves out along the north
side of the dance house (fig. 3, xz), beckoning with his quiver toward
the tuya, who all this time has been dancing rapidly back and forth
over his course between the two front side posts of the house.
I Wintun visitors from Indian creek and Little Stony creek.
II Porno visitors from Sulphur Bank.
III Wintun visitors from Long valley and Cache Creek.
IV Wintun visitors from the Sacramento river region.
V Host villagers.
A Air singers.
x Burden singers.
B Fire tender.
C Moki delivering ceremonial speeches.
Now the tuya moves out along the north side of the dance house
(fig. 3, MZ), until he meets the tcelitu at z nearly opposite the fire.
Here the two turn to face the fire and dance in place for a considerable
time, this dance consisting simply of a rapid and forceful stamping of
first one foot and then the other, the bodies being held erect. The
chorus increases the volume of its shouts, and the drummer beats
450 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 14
harder. This loud music continues until suddenly the tcelitu wheels
about and runs to the singers with the same motion and cry of hlyo
as before, the tuya also wheeling about, running to his place between
the two front posts, and resuming his former dance.
From this point on the same cycle is performed, except that upon
this occasion the director finally dances to the south side and is met
by the tuya, the two dancing there as before on the north side. Finally
the tcelitu again wheels suddenly, and runs to the singers with his
usual cry of "hlyo," and calls "ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha," letting his
voice fall gradually. This marks the end of this particular set of
The tuya immediately resumes his stooping posture in the entrance
tunnel, from which presently he, or one of his fellows, may be called
forth to dance the same set over again, or from which, if the dance is
to be ended, he may be summoned, either by the tcelitu s voice or by
a tap on his back by the quiver, to return into the main part of the
In the case of the dance ending, he backs, in his stooping posture,
into the house until he reaches a point between the first two side posts,
when he straightens up and walks at a medium pace to a point north
of the center post. Here he whirls, rattling, walks to the correspond
ing position south of the center pole, whirls and shakes his rattles
again. Then he walks out the front door and, once outside, runs to
the dressing place, which at night is near by, but in the day is in
the brush far enough from the dance house to be out of sight. In pass
ing out, he lays his rattles over his head to press down the long plumes,
so that they may not catch on the sides of the tunnel and break off.
In entering he also backs in, since the plumes project forward.
Only one of the tuya dances at a time, and usually each performs
but once in any one dance, going through the above described set or
cycle completely. This requires from fifteen to twenty minutes. If
there are several fuya, the second is usually called by the tcelitu im
mediately after the first has returned to the tunnel, and so on until
each of them has completed his set. When touched by the tcelitu s
quiver, they leave the dance house as described above, but the song
is kept up.
As soon as the tuya have passed out, the chorus singers and the
tcelitu dance out, with a short, high, sidewise step, in two lines, one
along the north and one along the south side of the house. The step
consists in simply lifting the feet very high and bringing them down
with force, and in no case does such a step move a dancer more than
1919] Barrett: Tlie Wintun Hesi Ceremony 451
six or eight inches. Having finally reached a point opposite the fire
and center post, the two lines, facing each other, dance in place for
perhaps a minute or two, using the same step but without the side-
wise progression. Suddenly, the tcelitu runs rapidly to the air singers,
who are still singing in front of the drum, raises his quiver, and brings
it down violently with his usual cry of "hiyo," to mark the ending.
Throughout this dance, the air singers are accompanied only by a low
"he, lie, he," of the dancing chorus.
The tcelitu immediately runs back to his position in one or the
other of the lines of dancing chorus singers and the dance continues.
In fact, the chorus has not ceased dancing during the time he has been
running back and forth. After another minute or two, they all start,
at a signal from the tcelitu, to dance back sidewise toward the drum.
When about half way, they suddenly break and run to a position in
front of the air singers, where they all shout "hlyo," bending their
bodies almost double. This marks the end of the dance and the music
ceases. The tcelitu walks out leisurely.
At frequent intervals during all this dancing, the spectators cry a
prolonged "o!" to signify their approval of the dance. At the very
end they all call "o!" loudly at least once, and some repeat the cry
several times, proportionate to their satisfaction.
One of these dances lasts usually from twenty minutes to half an
hour or considerably more, its duration depending chiefly on the num
ber of tuya participating. The motions are violent, and a dancer is
usually more or less exhausted at the end of his set, and cannot con
tinue throughout the night. At the present time, when the population
is reduced, and dancers few, a considerable intermission between one
dance and the next is therefore necessary. Anciently, however, several
sets of tuya, each with its tcelitu, are said to have been available, so
that as one set finished, another was ready to take its place. Thus the
dance was kept up almost continuously throughout night and day,
intermissions for feasts being ordinarily the only breaks in the con
tinuity of the dances. The first tuya dance, on May 5, having three
tuya and a tcelitu, lasted about an hour.
THE MOKI DANCE
At the conclusion of the tuya, the director put on his long cloak,
thus becoming mokl and, as the dancers left, commenced the first of
his ceremonial orations. He danced four times around the inside of
the house, constantly blowing his double whistle, and finally halted
452 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 14
near the rear of the dance house opposite the koimeru or fire tender.
The positions of the two are shown in figure 3, c, B. Here he delivered
a long speech in a high-keyed, squeaky voice, occasionally bowing for
ward or to the sides or settling slightly downward under his cloak,
these motions being for emphasis and apparently in lieu of gestures
with the hands, which are the ordinary Wintun means of emphasizing
speech. This oration was intended for all, but was addressed to the
fire tender, who frequently cried "6!" in approval. On completing
his oration, the mokl circled around the inside of the dance house once
and finally went to a place near the drum and removed his long cloak.
Moki, as the director is called when covered by his long cloak and
speaking in his high voice, is the same term as is used to designate a
class of clowns, who in certain parts of the ceremony amuse themselves
and the spectators by mimicking dancers, singers, drummers, and
The mokl, in modern times, represents a messenger from the keeper
of the abode of the dead, delivering his messages and instructing the
people in order that they may be provided with an abundance of food,
the supply of which depends upon their conduct. He also addresses
himself to the keeper of the dead and pleads, as it were, the cause of
his people. It could not be found that he represented a mythical
After the moki s first speech, an intermission of about an hour
followed. The spectators engaged in conversation most of the time.
Then, a number of visitors having arrived, the director rose and,
this time without his mokl cloak, delivered another oration a speech
of welcome. This he subsequently spoke into a phonograph, as follows :
Tabat te wi, Speech of Welcome^
6 o piuru 16 boti
Yes, yes. All stay.
chief s wives or sisters,
is Record 14-1518. Transcribed by the author and translated by Salvador
and Frank Wright.
is Piuru, said to be an esoteric term signifying "all," awe in ordinary speech.
Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony
chief s wives,
will do that
chief s wives
^ 17 Urle means "nothing" in the Central Wintun dialect. Southwestern
Wintun says elec.
is Pui be, waibe, nombe, woribe, east, north, west, south.
glad"; oupiri boli "glad" in ceremonial speech.
University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 14
we upireti 20 5
"thanks" tell one another, "Yes"
tell one another
"Yes" tell one another
tell you, tell
momupireta 21 upura cok 22
how many we
do that, do that,
girls themselves none
po seri tana
who boys dance,
dancers themselves none
yohos 2 3
eleLau 2 4
do that, we
do that, yes
call one another, "brothers,
sisters" call one another, "sons"
call one another, yes
"nephews, nieces," yes
call one another,
call one another.
SECOND TUYA DANCE
About midnight, came another tuya with his director, and a second
dance was held in exactly the same manner as that previously de
scribed. This ended about half past twelve. The people remained to
talk and amuse themselves in the dance house during the remainder
of the night or, as they chose, went to their houses to rest before the
ceremonies of the following day.
A little before sunrise, several men, particularly those who had
participated in the dances of the night before, gathered in the dance
house for the "fire" or "sweat" dance, called t cuppa. A very hot
fire was built and the doors and smoke hole tightly closed. The
2 <> Upireti, upirita, and tipirita are said to be esoteric terms meaning tell one
another, pirti signifying l each other in common speech.
21 Momupireta is an esoteric term for tcaTcet, everybody.
2 2 Upura is a ceremonial term, while cok or cdko has the same signification in
23 The yohos is the announcer who delivers an oration from the roof of the
dance house as visitors approach the village.
24 I.e., the yohos is not here, nor are the tuya.
1919] Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony 455
dancers stripped themselves of all clothing except an improvised clout
and danced slowly about the fire in time to the song and rattle of a
single singer. Their motions were very slow and the feet raised but
little off the ground. The body was swung from side to side con
siderably, so that at each step a different part of the body was pre
sented to the heat. The dancers also bent over the fire first forward
and then sidewise in such manner as to expose themselves to the heat,
while each rubbed his body rapidly. At the end of perhaps twenty
minutes, during which the temperature had grown intense, the dancers,
now in profuse perspiration, rushed out and plunged into the creek.
In plate 2, figure 1, two of these dancers are shown returning after
RECEPTION OF VISITORS
Nothing else took place until the entry of the guests. These were
Wintun from the Sacramento river, largely or wholly from Grimes;
from three villages along North Cache creek and Long Valley creek;
and from three villages along Indian and Little Stony creeks to the
north. The only people other than Wintun who came, were a few
Porno from Sulphur Bank or East Lake, one of the arms of Clear
Lake, who are more or less in touch with the Wintun living along
North Cache creek.
All the visitors had arrived the evening before and made their
camps at short distances from the village. Those from the west and
north camped a short distance northwest of the village, while those
coming from the Sacramento river, camped to the east.
About half past eight, the director went on the roof of the dance
house and gave his long cry "he" to the four cardinal points, to call
in the visitors. It is doubtful whether this cry could have been
heard, but at any rate in a short time those camped to the northwest
came in sight. Meanwhile the "captain," as he is called, that is, the
chief of the host village, the one who exercises whatever there are of
gubernatorial functions, joined the director on the roof of the dance
house. He took his station just below the smoke hole and sang for a
considerable time, accompanying with two cocoon rattles. When the
visitors from the northwest appeared, the director gave several of
his long-drawn cries of "he" toward them. The "captain" continued
his song. On arriving at the outer edge of the settlement, the visitors
halted, left their horses and traveling equipage, and advanced toward
the dance house, the inhabitants of each visiting village forming in
456 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 14
single file, each group led by its captain who carried a present from
them to the people of Let, the host village. These lines coming one
after another formed a long continuous file of people with only slight
breaks between the successive groups. The captain of the host village
continued to sing on top of the dance house (pi. 2, fig. 2) until the
head of the column neared the entrance, when he descended and led
the way, still singing, into the dance house. He led the column contra-
clockwise around the fire and center pole, and finally took up his
station near the drum, the visitors going directly to the particular
portion of the spectators areas allotted them at the side of the dance
house. As each column filed past the singing captain, its leader
stopped and presented him with the gift brought by his people for
those of the village giving the ceremony. These gifts the host captain
placed near the wall behind the drum where most of the dancing
paraphernalia were kept. The presents consisted usually of strings
of beads, though sometimes ropes of native milkweed fiber or other
objects were brought.
The last of the column was a very old shaman or dance leader
from the village of Toktl on North Cache creek. He came at some
little distance from the rest and instead of going directly with his
people to the side of the dance house, he moved, singing and rattling
with cocoons, four times contra-clockwise around the inside of the
house and then once in the same direction about the center pole alone,
before seating himself with his companions.
At last, all visitors being seated, the host captain brought in a
large basket full of acorn soup, ylwit, and a large cake of black meal,
hule, made from the seeds of one of the wild plants of the region.
These he presented to the leader of the visitors, who saw to it that
each one received his share.
The host captain then rejoined the director on the roof of the dance
house, there to await the arrival of the people from the Sacramento
river. Presently shouting was heard from behind a hill to the south
east, which was a signal that the visitors were on their way from that
quarter, and also that they were dancing into the village instead of
filing in like their predecessors. Upon hearing the shouts the director
gave his usual long "he," and the captain began to sing again. Pre
sently a tuya dancer, followed at a little distance by his tcelitu, came
over the brow of the hill toward the village, followed at some distance
by their captain and the remainder of the people walking slowly in
1919] Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony 457
On arriving at the door, the two dancers conducted themselves as
is customary. The tuya stopped before the door and shook his rattle
several times. The tcelltu, however, did not immediately enter, as is
the custom in an ordinary dance, but also waited without until the
last of the visitors from his region had been led in and properly placed
and provided with food by the captain of the host village. The singers
then assembled before the drum, the tcelltu entered, and the dancing
proceeded as on the evening before.
With this dance was introduced a new feature. As the dance
progressed, several men, apparently without any special dress or
preparations, went about in the dance house speaking in a very high-
keyed voice, similar to that of the director when he becomes moki.
They made all manner of fun of the dancers, the singers, the drum
mers, and any of the spectators that they might single out. These
clowns are also called mokl. As above stated, however, it is main
tained by the Indians that the office of these clowns is purely that of
amusing the people.
The antics which these clowns perform are sometimes genuinely
ludicrous. For instance, at one time later in the day, when the captain
of the host village was singing as he marched slowly about the inside
of the dance house, one of the clowns stationed himself before the
captain and marched slowly backwards in step with him, while deliver
ing joking remarks concerning the latter s ability to sing and the
particular song he was voicing, and in general endeavoring to give a
comical turn to what otherwise would have been a most solemn cere
mony. This did not seem in the least to disconcert the singer, who
continued to sing in his gravest manner ; but his song was not received
with the usual seriousness.
These clowns enter into ceremonies among the Porno to the west,
where they are called (by the Eastern Porno), katsa tala 24:a and act
much as here described, although the Hesi ceremony is not known.
The Maidu clown is called peheipe. 2 *
The dance having been completed, the captain caused to be brought
in several baskets of acorn soup and an abundance of other food, and
all feasted in the dance house.
24 Sergeants-at-arms, fine collectors, and clowns. Present series xn, 417-421,
25 E. B. Dixon, The Northern Maidu, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., xvn, 286,
310, 315, 318, 1905.
458 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Etlin. [Vol. 14
ALLOTMENT OF DANCE HOUSE PLACES
The parts of the dance house (Lut) used for special purposes were
in this ceremony as follows. The portion of the floor (wole) within
the line of side posts was reserved for the dancers and singers, the
singers occupying the space in the rear and immediately in front of
the drum. Different dances were held in several parts of the floor as
described previously and below. The space back of the side posts
(dorl) was divided into five sections of varying sizes, each allotted to
the spectators from a certain place. In figure 3 are shown these five
SINGING BY INVITED INDIVIDUALS
After the feast held in the dance house, the people gave themselves
over to conversation and visiting for some time, while the clowns con
tinued their business to the amusement of all. Finally the individual
singing began, partly, at any rate, as a result of the clowns actions.
They are privileged to levy a fine on one who does anything contrary
to custom, and especially upon those who show displeasure at their
ridicule or refuse to do their bidding. When, therefore, they ask some
one to sing, he must accede or pay a fine. It is said that nearly all
individual singing is due to the commands of the clowns.
A singer provides himself with two short cocoon rattles which he
uses one in each hand. They are grasped firmly between the thumb
and first finger and are shaken by means of a movement of the wrist.
Another movement is given them by means of the second, third and
fourth fingers, which tap upon the handle as it projects down into
the hand. The invited performer sings for some minutes wherever he
happens to be sitting, then rises and walks to a position on the south
side of the dancing area and a little back of the center pole (fig. 3, Y).
Here he sings for some minutes, pacing back and forth in one direction
or another over a short course. He then walks rapidly over to the
point marked N in figure 3, where he again sings for some time ; then
goes to M and sings for some minutes; then to X, and finally to Y
again, singing at each of these stations as described. He then either
goes directly to his seat, or repeats the cycle. In any case, when he
arrives at his seat he turns completely around before sitting down,
after which he continues singing for some minutes.
While this is the commonest method, some singers go round and
round the dancing area counter-clockwise, moving continually with
a slow step and not stopping at the four points above mentioned.
1919] Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony 459
When a singer begins, a loud shout goes up, each person in the
house shouting "6." When he arises, a still louder chorus of the same
indication of approval is heard ; and at frequent intervals during the
song similar shouts from one or more people in different parts of the
house are audible. On taking his seat, he is greeted again, and on the
ending of his song, he receives the loudest applause of all.
Any one may be asked by the clowns to sing and is expected to
respond. But in practice only men known to be proficient singers
are called upon. Their songs are said to be private and more or less
hereditary from father to son. It is asserted that such songs are not
and were not formerly learned from the inhabitants of the ghost
world or the keeper Katit, though the latter teaches other songs. The
individual or private songs show some variety. Three examples fol
low. The words of these were written down during the ceremony, but
it proved impossible to obtain phonographic records.
Individual Song 1
holuu du hwee holulu du hwii (4 times)
watohoona wilak mee holo wee walei heme (4 times)
haluu du hwei haluu du heha (4 times)
Individual Song 2
nam n he" hila hihye nani n he n hila hihye (4 times)
winii hila hehye winTI hila hehye (4 times)
wilee hila hehye wilee hila hehye (4 times)
wai wai hila wewe wai wai hila wewe (4 times)
Individual Song 3
haiie waleiho haiie waleiho (twice)
haiie waleiho haiie waleih5 (twice)
It will be seen that these songs are simple. Some consist merely
of a phrase or two repeated a definite number of times, usually four.
Often this set is repeated over and over again throughout the song.
In more elaborate songs the first set or "stanza" of a four-times re
peated phrase is followed by another with more or less different words,
and so through perhaps three or four stanzas, after which the whole
group of stanzas is indefinitely reiterated, sometimes for half an hour
or longer. It is maintained that the words have no meaning, though
now and then a word, such as wilaU, "world," is recognizable. It is
possible that more of these words may at one time have had meanings,
but that, like parts of the speeches of the mokl, they are esoteric or
archaic. In the speeches, however, only some of the terms are of this
460 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 14
nature, and the bulk of the orations is intelligible to the "Wintun
public. However, it is certain that in both songs and speeches some
at least of the terms used are esoteric and have meanings definitely
known to the initiated.
VISITORS TUYA DANCE
About half past eleven, two of the visitors from the Sacramento
river, a tuya and a tcelitu, performed the second dance of the day,
which lasted some twenty minutes.
After this, the midday feast was served at the long table under the
trees near the dance house (pi. 1, fig. 4). When the meal was ready,
the director made a long speech of welcome exhorting the visitors to
eat heartily and enjoy themselves.
Ba Tcema, Food Speech 2
o u, yes
we reti (3), come on!
we reti, come on!
lo iba we reti (2), girls come on!
se riba we reti, youths come on!
i lain we reti, children come on!
ba La huya lis (2), at eating assembled
e u ba La, at this eating
e u ba La huya lis, at this eating assembled
e u kori La huya lis, at this pinole assembled
e u yiwi La huya lis, at this acorn-soup assembled
e u tipa La huya lis, at this acorn-bread assembled
mile o upi ni, you say yes to one another
o upini (2), say yes to one another
pi La piu roti, will be doing that
ta i upi reti, will (call one another) sister s child (or grandchild)
pi ba La, at eating that
wile ba La huya ro, at healthy eating assemble
pi ba La huya ro e u ba La huya ro, at eating that assemble, at eating this
e u tca lal ba La huya ro, at this pleasant eating assemble
e u wile ba La huya ro, at this healthy eating assemble
pi La o u u pitaro ba ti, at that say yes to one another s eating
o u pitaro ba ti (2), say yes to one another s eating
we yu pini, rejoice at one another
we a patcu u ro, rejoice: "my mother s brother"
26 Eecord 14-1498, Odock-Kroeber transcription. Each line of the text repre
sents a phrase or separate ejaculation. A number indicates that the phrase is
repeated so many times.
1919] Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony 461
we ta tcu u ro, rejoice: "my father"
we La ntcu u ro, rejoice: "my younger brother"
upu taro ba ti, say thus to one another s eating
weyu ti, rejoice
mile t ba mahem, (at) him who causes you to eat
milet do ihem, (at) him who gives to you
ba do ihem, (at) him who gives food
e kori do ihem, who gives this pinole
e tipa do ihem, who gives this acorn-bread
pi La lomu ti, at that be glad
pi La lomu ti pi, at that be glad
piu weyu ro, so rejoice
mile t weyu ro, rejoice for you
ta itcu ba uro, my sister s children (eat?)
La ntcu ba uro, my younger brothers (eat?)
pi uro ba ti (3), doing so eat
tap mile ila in, you children
mile lo iba, mile seri ba, you girls, you youths
mile ila in, you children
pi uro ba ti, so eat
^pi uro katu les, so satisfied
katu ro weyu les, satisfied rejoice
katu ro weyu les, satisfied say yes
u no te we, his word
u no te we u no so ko, his word, his teaching
u i mile t sokohem, he who teaches you
pi uro ba ti (4), so eat!
The feasting was in the following order. First were served the
visitors who arrived earliest at the village, that is, as many as could
be seated at the table, the remainder eating at the second table. Third
came the visitors who had arrived later, and finally, at the fourth and
last table, the people of the home village ate. The food was all pre
pared by the women of the village in their houses and was brought to
the table by three or four men. In general, this serving of food was
under the direction of the fire tender of the dance house.
FURTHER TUYA, SWEAT, AND MOKI DANCES
Immediately after this meal, which ended about two o clock, a
third tuya was held in the dance house, along the same lines as those
previously described. Later, at half past five, a fourth dance was
made. An evening feast with attendant speeches began at six.
After this meal, a hot fire was again built in the dance house and
three men, who had participated in the dancing during the day, danced
another fire or sweat dance to the music of the two singers. Toward
the last of their dance, the mokl danced once around the floor, then
University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Etnn. [Vol. 14
outdoors, and several times around the high pole in front of the dance
house, the while blowing his whistle constantly. Soon after he left
the dance house for his dance about the pole, the three dancers ran
out to the creek, swam for a few minutes, and returned to the house.
About ten o clock, the first tuya dance of the night was held, being
followed before morning by several others, all about the same as those
About five in the morning another sweat dance was held, imme
diately after which the mokl danced, as before, slowly about the danc
ing floor and out the front door, and then performed a ceremony about
the high pole (see pi. 1, fig. 3). He danced about the pole several
times in a sort of shambling trot, finally coming to a halt on its east,
that is, on the side away from the dance house, facing this. Here he
settled slowly down, waving his cloak with his hands, until he had come
to a squatting position, where he remained for some seconds blowing
his whistle. He then slowly arose with the same fluttering of his cloak,
circled the pole, and again settled down, this time facing toward the
south, he being on the north side of the pole. This circling and facing
were repeated in the usual sequence, that is, east and finally north.
He next danced over to the table, around which he danced four times
(pi. 1, fig. 4), after which he danced about the poles at the east end
of the table. Finally, coming to a stop to the east of the poles, and
facing them and the table, he settled down as he had done about the
high pole in front of the dance house. He then danced around to the
west end of the table and once around the high pole there, stopping
to face it from the west. Here he again settled, after which he danced
back into the dance house, passing on the north side, or contra-clock
wise along the dancing floor, to the drum where, as usual, he removed
About half past six, breakfast was served at the long table in the
usual manner after another speech by the director.
SPEECHES OF INSTRUCTION
About half past nine, the director took up a position in front of the
dance house and near the high pole and here delivered a long oration.
This oration, as also those that followed during the afternoon, exhorted
the people to live properly and in accordance with the instructions
1919] Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony 463
recently received by the director from Katit. These instructions were
to recount to them the history of the world and outline the reasons
why it was in its present condition ; and also to tell its future and the
ultimate destiny of mankind.
From a summary of the ideas expressed in these speeches, as ren
dered at the time by one of the Indian auditors, it appears that the
conceptions of the Wintun in respect to the world are as follows. 27
The world originally had a different form, but in those days there
were comparatively few people. Later, as its population increased,
the earth was stretched to accommodate the people and for a time all
things went satisfactorily. Again the population grew, the world be
came crowded, and the earth was stretched ; thus it has up to the pre
sent time been enlarged four times. The last time its form was mate
rially changed and the present mountains were created. There is to be
a fifth and final upheaval and stretching, which will bring these moun
tains down and render the world a level plain as is the Wintun abode
of the dead. To be sure, the Wintun population has, since the coming
of the whites, greatly decreased, but the influx of Americans has
greatly increased the population of the region, so that the country is
very crowded at present, and it is expected that this final great world
change may come at any time. When the earthquake of April 18, 1906,
was felt, it was considered part of this final upheaval, and especially
was the belief confirmed when the Wintun saw the effect on upper
Cache creek, which drains Clear lake. Here a body of earth, large
enough to block the passage of the stream, slid into the canyon, back
ing the water up into the lake itself. After a time the pressure broke
through the dam and carried the debris down in a great flood through
Capay and the other valleys along the lower course of Cache creek.
The stream lies but a few miles to the south of the Cortina valley
village and the flood had occurred only three days before, so that
considerable excitement was still running among the Indians at the
time the director was preaching to them.
Another feature which had recently inspired the Wintun of the
region with awe was the immense mass of smoke which was visible to
them from the San Francisco fire. Some said that at night even the
glare of the fire could be seen. By many it was feared that this was
the final great world fire, which, in common with the other Indians of
this part of California, they anticipated.
27 A short note in the Journal of American Folk-lore, xix, 324-325, 1906, gives
the substance of the following account.
464 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Etlw. [Vol. 14
OTHER MORNING DANCE
About eleven o clock, four of the Sacramento valley men danced
again. As before stated, such dancers always put on their costumes
out of sight of the spectators. They usually approach dancing in
single file (see pi. 2, figs. 3 and 4). Each tuya, upon reaching the door
squats in front of it and shakes his two split stick rattles. The tcelltu
goes in immediately on his arrival, and when all is ready calls in the
The midday feast began a little after noon, as usual preceded by
a speech from the director. The next dance was made by four men
about three o clock in the afternoon.
This being the last time that the particular dancers participating
were to appear, a purification ceremony immediately followed the
dance of each.
As each dancer took up his position in the tunnel of the dance
house after completing his set of the dance, the fire tender went to him
and, seizing his wrists, lifted his hands and his rattles high above his
head. He then looked the dancer carefully over from head to foot and
finally, letting go his hands, allowed the dancer s arms and rattles to
fall to his sides, after which the dancer replaced his rattles in their
former crossed position. The fire tender then, commencing at the
dancer s feet, blew several times with much force on various parts of
the dancer s body, waving his hand upward with each blast, and end
ing with a long blast directed so as to spread his breath over the whole
body of the dancer. He then passed around to his back and again
blew in the same manner. Before performing this ceremony, the fire
tender chewed mitcil, a parasitic plant found on oaks, probably mistle
toe as nearly as can be judged from its description. His breath being
laden with the sweet-scented mitcil, served to expel from the dancer s
body any spirit or evil effect of a spirit, tcoyl, which if unremoved
would cause illness. Having blown upon a dancer in this manner, the
fire tender stepped back to a position directly in front of the fire, that
is, between the fire and the front door, and there raised his right hand
high above his head and gave a long cry of "he," dropping his hand
and lowering his voice slowly toward the last. This completed the
purification ceremony and the dancer was at liberty to depart.
Immediately after this dance and the purification of each of the
Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony
dancers, the director again delivered an oration, the latter part of
which was cut short by the arrival of another set of dancers about four
o clock. Their dance was the same as the preceding, and was followed
by the same purification ceremony. After they had departed, the
director proceeded with his oration for perhaps half an hour longer.
Several of the formal speeches delivered by the director on this
afternoon as well as at other times during the Hesi were subsequently
recorded as follows :
"Ghost Yes" Oration**
piribum piu La pele
tell, here we
win mutu kabec tcama
people to hear waiting, white
to hear waiting
topi bole 29 ma
topi pile winibum
all they seeing
just like they
imanatibum 6u La
will be the same, yes
will be the same
(they will not assist)
29 So literally, but translated as "dreamer,"
doctor, " or " dance director.
University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Etlin. [Vol. 14
(they will not do it)
(what is the matter)
(what is the mattter)
will give ;
29 So literally, but translated as "dreamer," " doctor," or "dance director."
30 The speaker was asking a colleague or rival, Bulkas by name, from the
Clear Lake region, what he intended to do, whether he intended to give another
dance as the white people do.
Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony
Chinaman will know,
world s trouble
Chinaman will know
Chinaman will know,
will know, white
speech, let them know will give
paruru win win
crowded people people
wilak tcu Lahis
world I look,
pmLa tcu mit
sometimes I you
heLa tfepiti olel pitc
somewhere go out above,
olel tepiti piLa
above go, there
henpa La waiyel
find in north
henpa ti piunpi
tcu Lahie un
un nai henpa
You must believe what he has taught you. Here we should be glad. Give
this speech to all the people, to the white people also for they are awaiting it.
Every one is to be saved. All the dreamers see that. Just like them (the
ghosts) we dance.
When I do this the world will end.
University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 14
Some people will not assist, some will not do as they are instructed. Though
our father (i. e., ruler of the ghost world) told us this, we see that some people
do not believe it. Sometimes we ask what the reason is.
We must give a dance. We will give it for the white people also. It is for
the betterment of the world and for the improvement of the people.
Yes, some people do not believe my speech, but this is for us, for all the
world and for all the villages.
What are you going to do? Do you intend to give another dance as the
white people do?
The Chinese know that the world is coming to an end, and the white people
will realize this after a while.
Now let us speak that all may know. Let us dance. The world is crowded
with people. That is the reason for my search. I call you all to let you know
that I am going away in search of the future world. I do not know just where
it is, but know I shall find it somewhere above, either in the north or in the
west. That is the way I shall look about and, when I do, the world will come
to an end.
That is what I (the seer) said.
Another Bole Ho Oration^
(I) shall tell
shall come out
52 Record 14-1510. A. L. Kroeber transcriber, Tom Odock translator.
Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony
all will die,
all will die
ii a t
e unputa n
e unputa n
e unputa n
e unputa n
that is what
make step told
make step told,
University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Etlin. [Vol. 14
(I) came out
winit pi ui
get up thus
ba kuma nisa
made (me) count (it),
four times I
thus it was,
ba kuma nisa
made (me) count (it)
thus it was,
thus it was
A Third Bole Ho Oration^
o, 6! co lec bo ti 35 (3). nai nai wini 36 (2), nat yori 37 (2), pima milet
momhule, 38 pima milet tlple, piuLa mlleupu. Wilakss wilakLa (2), oubum 4 (2).
pila pelet laiukon 41 tiabum, 42 6 pima ten ou nisa, laiuk tepi, soro 43 laiuk mo ml,
soro ou nisa, pm manat, ewisin mile (2), piu weresun.** ewisin mit pi umato eu
ti hitamato 45 (2). tci tcu mara poiima mile nisa. pima nat momi sa
tci tci 46 (2), pi ma tcu (2), pima dukamaru, 47 pima Lutumara, 47 bunica iirteu mu
te u, mu tcu bonica pi u Lanai. pi la iuk ic. pi la iuk ic un, picin pi mile wereti.
picen pi mile piuti piu La (3), poima mile nica. 48 ui tcitciimuru 4 ^ (2), (pi)
pi la iuk ic fin (2), piuLa tcur Lo tumara^o bunica, tcu teuma bonica (2), pimana
tco finica on mile (2). were ta be ic eu fniica, aihikiisai-" 11 fmica. piuLa tcfi toil
33 An exclamation of pleasure.
34 Phonograph record 14-1513. Numbers in parentheses in the text indicate
the number of times that the immediately preceding phrase that is the group
of words following the last mark of punctuation is repeated.
ss Listen !
ss What I see.
37 Teach me.
3 I shall tell you that.
4 1 Good
4 2 Call.
43 Tell good thought.
44 Come, arrive.
45 "When you do this, let him ask him."
4(5 He that told me choked.
47 < That wrong. ;
48 "Would not let me mark (or write)."
si "How is that?"
1919] Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony 471
mulenica 52 (2). nai nai piu, piu nai ou nica (2), piumas ur ounica. pi pi
tewihem 53 piu matcoun laiukara bes unisa mile pi cin wereLa wetura 5 * bee unica,
picin mile were laiukara bee piuLa bonica teu muur. piuLa piu mas ur nat win
tara (2). el nai piura dukamara^s bo ou Latumas mi pimami poros unica pi
piura yopnanica. 56 piuLa kaL Lamana 57 uitipi hem 58 (2), kaL Lamana 57 upur-
A Fourth Bole Ho Oration
6, 6! mile pi (2), mile pi tepiboso (2), mile pi heLe bar mile be (2). wilak
wilak Labon,6i didi 62 Labon, sun pi meli tepibo, sun pi meli werebo, sun pi mile
henebon, piuLa mile mile, elelebosa 63 (2), mile pima mile, tepi yapai 64 win 65
Iiimu66 L a pin (2), heLa hara 67 pe? lum tar pele bobatin termur.es tcelmuso ur
ubasa mile, pi mile yoma 70 les mile pelelnan males topi mile henec e wilak La
eu dihi 02 La tcun pi mile hene bo tcun pi mile tepibo youmelebe, 70 hena puina 71
harmelebe, worna 72 harmelebe (2), tcun (ic) mele hene 73 cok (ic) (2), pi pi
eura hene bo, eule pile ic un, eule pi pile un pabe 74 tewe 75 dura un. eule piii
La tewe, mutfuhem 76 e e pabe tewe. nai tewe tcaihun 77 behem 7 s (2). pi eu
henes, uru tepu maneca, tcu momun La melet eu matoun. sun laiukara tepu
matoun (2). tcu piu boun piLa mile piu bosaun upun mile tewe bo sa elele, bo
sa mile, pi pi tewe, hene bosa. male piuhem un 5impi 7 o (2), henebo un sunpi (2),
werebo un sunpi, mile tepibo un, wilak wilak La bo un, didi La bo un, piu La
mile mile upubosa male tewe. pi ma borne bosa. mile upubosa nai mutu La un.
mile nai mutu La (2). nai sorio La tepi pabo, win lumu La harabo, hetiika
harabo, bobo pele eii kir 81 La un, pi La mile bobo unisa, uni mile teuteubosa 75
un, uni mile tewibosa. 75
52 Then I said nothing, he said.
s* Is right.
55 Inside me thus is bad.
56 Took it off.
57 Made a cracking noise.
58 That is what he learned.
so Record 14-1514.
eo Emerge, leave.
3 Doubt, disbelieve.
68 "We are all dead."
7 f>Lost; melebe, never.
7 1 East.
75 Word, speak, talk.
7 6 Listeners, listening, hearing.
78 Being, who are.
472 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 14
These speeches are to a certain extent traditional, but partly made
up on the spur of the moment by the director. They are therefore
subject to a greater or lesser variation from year to year and cannot be
considered as strictly ritualistic and fixed in their terminology. The
speeches here recorded must therefore be considered to evince some
personal element, although the various orations of the successive cere
monies are without doubt in a fair measure the same verbatim, and
certainly contain similar substance and sentiment. While they include
certain esoteric elements, they consist more largely of words which are
of the common speech, so that the people are able to understand their
The last dance of the ceremony was made about ten o clock in the
evening by four of the men from the host village. Toward the end of
this dance, the mokl appeared and participated in the same manner as
in the initial dance on the opening night.
At the end of this dance all three of the tuya or big-head dancers
were purified by the fire tender in the same manner as in the after
noon. This dance and the mokl ceremony connected with it marked
the end of the Hesi proper.
Early in the evening a grass game, kosi, was started outside the
dance house and this continued throughout the night, not even being
stopped during the above mentioned final dance.
At about the usual eating time on the morning of the fourth day, a
final feast was served at the long table near the dance house, after
which the people all assembled in the dance house, each group taking
its particular allotted place in the space for spectators. The host
captain again brought in baskets of acorn soup and cakes of black
meal and all were served in the same manner as on their arrival four
During this feast the director delivered a farewell oration, includ
ing a song, as follows:
1919] Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony 473
Bole Ho and Song 82
hamse tcu nat ku tiyamti 83 (3). mutmatu 84 tewi (2), comatu 8 * nat iyamti, 85
nat ku tiyamti. piuLa tea hanicai, 86 piiiLa bonica, t almu 87 pilitatara 88
hamtara 89 bonica. pi La 6u tcu mit tiyasa 90 (2). mutmata 84 sorumata 01 nai
pmn Lakalasok 92 (2). eu wilak Cm, eu toL, 93 piro, 94 matapan, 95 matapan, olel 9 ^ bobon,
pantiaLa 97 bobon, ponoLta 98 ic un, ponoLta ic matapan, matapan, tcun eteta" bos
olelbe 96 bi ponoLta bebe un wilak tcu tcu Lahiticioo Cm Lahic 1( >o tcu wilak heLa
heiipato, 101 heLapa tcenpati, 101 eim tceltara 102 win 103 paros, 104 piura win paros,
na nanu dihi^os nanu dihi nat.
woaini woaini (9)
eu wilakioe woaini (2)
woaini woaini (2)
eu memem 107 woaini (2)
woaini woaini (2)
eu toLios woaini (2)
woaini woaini (3)
eu buliioo woaini (2)
woaini woaini (1)
eu memem woaini (2)
woaini w 7 oaini (2)
el kapai 110 w^oaini (2)
82 Eecords 14-1515 to 1517; numbers have the same meaning as in the two
83 < < Went I me called.
88 Toward the east.
89 Toward the sitting.
no "Was glad I called you."
92 Play, dance.
95 Your mother s brother (or grandfather).
97 High up.
102 Travel toward.
105 My villages, settlements.
100 This world.
107 These waters.
108 These mountains,
loo These foothills.
no These streams.
474 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and EtJin. [Vol. 14
woainl woaini (1)
ei memem woaini (2)
woaini woaini (2)
ei tukim woaini (2)
woaini woaini (1)
ei memem woaini (2)
woaini woaini (2)
ei kodoi 112 woaini (2)
ei memem woaini (2)
woaini woaini (4)
eu pi bo tcu tens (2), muhima Le taraii* (2), eu pi bo tcu te (2), teumupiiis
tcu eu bo eu pi bo tcu nai Lakala La, 116 e nai toL Lakala La, e nai wilak Lakala La,
e nai tuki Lakala La, e kodoi Lakala La.
eun pi tcu te (2). Lakala bon eun pi tcu, Lakala bon. eura polopura 117 (2),
polopura (2), e tcolic 118 bo tcolic bo, eura pi tcu were bo. tuniis ut poltura 117
eunisa, tun ut poltura. eurii be ut piLa piLao ut kaLaptonisa.iso piLao hataraisi
hatara hatara hatara. mobtara 122 nat boni 12 3 tcu teu, pinisa. 124 eu pi bo tcu
unisai 2 5 (2), nai Lakala La.ns toL pi tcu Lakala bo (2), cu mem Lakala bo, eu
mem in pi tcu Lakala bo, unisa.
My father called me and spoke to me. He called me to hear his counsel.
I went above and found him naked and seated facing the east. He was glad
to see me, and said: "I called you that you might hear what I have to say.
This world and these mountains are your maternal uncles. There are three
worlds above. There are three there, three of your uncles. There are already
three worlds above, but I shall somewhere find a place where people may be
sent. The world is crowded enough."
The song follows. "My father s" speech to the dreamer then continues:
"I do thus (i.e., sing this) when I look for another place (i.e., world).
I never talk bad. I do this when I play, when I play on these mountains, when
I play on this world, when I play on these trees, when I play on these rocks.
I do this, my son. I swell up thus (illustrating) and swell and swell and swell.
I shall show this way to you. This is the way I come. His body was wholly
swelled. He was like that for a while there. Then he became normal in the
111 These woods, trees.
11 2 These rocks.
114 "Song stop."
us Not speak, say nothing.
us Play up on, when play.
120 Said, it is well.
1 2 1 Gone.
1 22 Good.
1 24 Said this.
i 2 s Said that.
1919] Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony 475
same place. The swelling was gone. He told me, "Remain to talk. I do
thus," he said, "When I play on those mountains, when I play in the water,
I play thus, he said.
The guests then prepared to depart, and by half past ten or eleven
o clock, the village was left with only its usual population. The
director and the captain, together with one or two assistants, rolled up
and laid away the dancing paraphernalia and in general took care of
whatever it was desired to save for a future ceremony. The village
then resumed its usual quietude and the people recuperated from the
long vigil of the ceremony, for during these four days and nights most
of them had scarcely slept.
ADDITIONAL SPEECHES AND SONGS
The following additional speeches and songs belong in the cere
mony but have no fixed place in it. Various other songs and speeches
were also delivered but time did not permit their recording.
Bole Ho Speech^ 2
pi roboiti, remain thus
gu tcima mile t ti ple, a little (I) you inform
ete ma t e we pa mpama tVwe, one word, two words
milet ti ple, inform you
o uraboiti (2), (and ye) say yes
pi ro wi lakupo (2), thus in the world
mo ktaro were bem (2), make will come
pele tuka, to us
to pimma pele t paLe to (2), they us will drive out
pi ura were bem, so will come
he u wila k (2), this world
pi ura were bem, so will come
pi sun mile didi La didi La, here you in the settlements, in the settlements
nanu t e we o ura mi le were (2), my words approving you come
pi tci derobes, that was straight
pi la iokarobes, that was good
male ipiu, what you do
nana t Vwe o u, my words approve
pi uLaupu tcama win, when on those white persons
tcama winupa (2), on white persons
pi lei i ma natibom (2), us will resemble
mui tibom, will sing
126 Record 14-1509, Thomas Odock translator, A. L. Kroeber transcriber.
The lines indicate the phrasing, which is marked by considerable pauses, which
are rhetorical rather than grammatical. Numbers denote repetitions of phrases.
476 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 14
mu hun tono tibom, sing will dance
o ura o uLa pile piu tibom, approving, when approve we shall do so
o ura were hem, approving who come
pi uLa upu were bem, thus will come
pi uLa wile tuka, thus they
wile tuka we rebem, they will come
wile i o uuLa o uuLa we rebem, they when approve, when approve, will come
la iokato were bem (2), being good will come
eu tcama winoi pele no t Vwe, these white people our words
pale uli tcu do is ule tcu do is, we (only) I give, (only) I give
ule tcu tipis, (only) I inform
male yimanan (2), like yourselves
eu n Laka lmato (2), thus playing (dancing)
tcu do is pimma, I give them
nanu t e we, my words
na i tcayu nbobem (2), I who remain ashamed
pi mma tcu ti pis, them I inform
pi umato, doing thus
to pi mma mele t paLe mato, they you (putting out?)
to pi mma mele t ebu mato, they you (getting out?)
sun sun tcu mele t pi us, here, here I for you do so
sun sun te pito, here, here emerge
mile e uLa ha rmiles, you when go (nowhere?)
pe mi le le luna nmu eles (2), you become otherwise (at death)
pi uLa mi le sun he nes, so when you here come
sun mi le he nes, here you come
sun mi le te pis, here you emerge
sun pi he nebo wilakwila ksel, here will come from all over the world
di disel pi sun hene bo, from the settlements here will come
eu ke weLa, to this dance house
eu wo leLa, to this dance floor
sun hene bo sun pi hene bo, here will come, here will come
urabes, so (I) say
wuu u wuu u
tate (3), father
wile cekte i (3), healthy chief
wiles euLa , healthy
pima tcu euLa , that I
pida euLa , (bring?)
pima tcu euLa , that I
pida t eweda euLa , that word
wile t eweda euLa, healthy word
wileda (5), healthy
127 Eecord 14-1508, Odock-Kroeber transcription. The phrases are very
marked and accented on the last syllables. The translation of the eternal "euLa" !
has not been attempted. It seems to mean "at this" or "when so." This
speech is in much more rigid ritualistic form than the last, and may be more
representative of the pre-ghost-dance Hesi manner. It is perhaps a prayer as
much as a speech. It is not a report of a recent vision of the "father," like
several of the preceding.
1919] Barrett: Tlie Wintun Eesi Ceremony 477
\virn u wuu u
piLa tcu euLa
naminda tcu euLa
nan wileda euLa
naiiu *Lupuru euLa
pima helairu euLa (=B)
pima tcu were *boti *boai
nanu takada euLa
wile takada euLa
pima *Lupuru euLa (= A)
pima helairu euLa (= B)
humli takada euLa
pida helaira euLa
sai takada euLa
tekis takada euLa
wile takada euLa
nanu humtu takada euLa
nanu yulakda euLa
nanu *Lupuru euLa
nanu Loda euLa
pisin *hobloro euLa
namin *Lekicda euLa
nanu *Leida euLa
nanu *pelel euLa
nanu piLa euLa
wile *Lupura euLa
pima *holumpuluru euLa
128 Same source as the preceding, and the same remarks apply. "A" and
B ; in the text stand respectively for ( pima Lupura euLa and pima helairu
euLa . Helairu means to hold something in the hands and move it alternately
to the right and left. Starred words are said to have an esoteric meaning.
478 University of California Publications in Am,. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 14
nanu *pototoi takada euLa
pida tcu (4)
pima tcu helairu tcu
*wesai taka tcu
e wile taka tcu
e LO taka tcu
e pima *hobloro euLa (2)
pida tcu (2)
pida tcu wetaru (2)
hene boti *boai
Glossary of principal words in order of occurrence. piLa, at that, there, when;
tcu, I; namin, mine; -da, translated "and" (sic) ; nan, nanu, my; wile, healthy;
pima, that, they (-ma is a causative suffix of verbs and a plural of nouns de
noting persons); were, arrive; ta~ka, crop of acorns or wild growths; humli, a
species of oak; sai, a species of oak; tekis, a species of oak; humtu, fat, grease,
probably referring to the oily acorn called hamsu; hima, indeed, surely; yuldk,
acorns of Quercus wizlizeni; LO, a kind of long acorn; pisin, with that; wetaru,
arrive with; hene, come.
Four Speeches by the
wuu u (4)
piLa tcu euLa (2)
nanu tcalalLa euLa
wile tcalalLa euLa
pira helayuru euLa
pima *Lupuru euLa
pima *cekaru euLa
wile t ewe euLa
nanu t ewe tcu
wile t ewe tcu
tcalal t ewe tcu
tcalal t ewe tcu
nanu bole t ewe tcu
piLa tcu wiaru
*Lupuru tcu pima helairu tcu
(indistinct phrase: piLa tcu . . . kayire tcu)
piLa *pulaki *boti *boai
129 Eecord 14-1494, Odock-Kroeber transcription. Spoken by Salvador in a
high-keyed voice, w r hile walking about the dance house in his Moki cloak.
Starred words are esoteric; the principal others will be found in the preceding
or following glossary.
1919] Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony 479
wuu u (2)
wi/le sekte i (2)
wi leda tcu
nanu wi leda tcu
nanu wile tcu
wi leda tcu hela iru tcu
lila inma wile le loru tcu
lo ibama wile le loru tcu
se ribama wile le loru tcu
pida tcu nanu wi leda tcu
tca lal wile da tcu
bo le wile da tcu
pi da tcu *pula ki *boti *boa i
wuu u (3)
wile sekte i
wi leda tcu
nanu wile da tcu
wi le tca lalda
wile *Lupi da
wile helai da
pi ma tcu hela iru
pima *Lu puru
pima tcu (indistinct word)
ila inma tcu
wile le loru
se ribama wile le loru
pi ra tcu w r eta ru he ne *boti *boa i
wuu u (2)
wile sekte i (2)
wile *be sai
wi leda tcu na nu wi leda tcu
bo le wi leda tcu
pima *Lupuru tcu pima tcu hela iru tcu
pi da wile da tcu
pi da *pulaki *boti *boa i
Supplementary Glossary. tcalal, pretty, literally, rose blossom, probably a
ghost-dance word; helairu, helayuru, lielai-da, sway, swing sidewise repeatedly;
t ewe, word, speak; ~bole, ghost, spirit of a dead person; wiaru, gather; seMei,
selctu, chief; lilain-ma, ilain-ma, children; leloru, are made, become; loiba-ma,
girls, maidens; seriba-ma, youths.
480 University of California Publications in Am. Arcli. and Ethn. [Vol. 14
Farewell Speech to Visitors*
pi ra hene ti (4)
pe le hene sa
hene sa pe le hene sa
se ktu ma tin
ma in ma tin
ma ino t e we
o uura ut piu ti
o ura ut e ubu
e ubu e ubu
pi La lomu ru
piLa we yuru
e ura pele huya La
e ura pele piu La
piura pele huya sa
u no wo leLa (2)
u no te wekLa
u La pele huya sa
piLa pele huya sa
piu La (2)
pima lomu ru
ewet lomu ru (2)
o u sapi
pele t piu La
tci dupasa pele t
pi ra pele t witi lupasa
pi ura pele u no ke weLa piu sa u no wo leLa piu sa
pi La pele o uparo
ut lomu ru
ut we yuru
weyu ru pele piu sa (2)
eu to eu to
eu n pele piu to
u no wo leLa ha mtaro.
u no ou La ha mtaro
pi ra pele piu to
(h) eu sa pele eu sa
(h)eu sa pe le
o u ra o u ra (2)
o u ti
ut o u ti
ut weyu ti
ewe ti sektuma
ewe t mainma
130 Eecord 14-1499, Odock-Kroeber transcription.
1919] Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony 481
o u ti u no t Vwe
u no so ko
u i mile t piu hem
piu ra tci dupara mile t
piu ra witi lupahem
pi La o uti
u no t e we
u no t e we u no so ko
pi ma *koto ro
pi ra lomu ti
lomu ti ut lomu ti
e ura mile t huya"ma
e ura mile t we yuma
e ura mile t tiya sa
o u ti u no t e we
u no o uti
o u ti oVti
o ura pele were (2)
se ktuno t e we
ma ino t e we
pi ma pele lomu ru
pi ma pele we yuru
pi ma pele piu sa
o u sa pele o u sa
Glossary: Endings. sa, -nisa, past; -ti, -Us, future, exhortative, imperative;
-to, future; -ma, causative; -hem, he who; -pa, -paro, for; -bem, -tibom, future;
-t, objective; -no, possessive; -La, on, in, at, when; -sel, from; -sin, with; -upo,
-upu(?}, at, on (?); -tara, -taro, toward, on to. Stems. hene, come; pele, pile,
we; main, "queen," "chief s sister," woman of princely family; ou, yes, say
yes, approve; piu, do that; lomu, glad, rejoice; weyu, glad, rejoice; huya, gather,
assemble; (u, he), ut, him, uno, his; wole, floor or area of dance house; teweTc,
cleared space in front of dance house; tcidu, straight, come straight; witilu,
run; Tcewe, dance house; ham, sit; mile, ye; solco, teach.
Three Toto Dance Songs***-
1. ne pe sume huya sane
2. he hiyo yoho
were ltina were ltina
he hiyo yoho
3. ho pil hopi l
ho pil hopi l
ne pil nepi l
ne pil nepi l
Nepe, nepil is the first person inclusive dual, "I and thou"; huyasane was
translated "rocking," but huya also means to gather or assemble; wereltina
was said to mean south.
Eecords 14-1492, 14-1496.
482 University of California Publications in Am. Arcli. and Ethn. [Vol. 14
Moki s Speech of Welcome in the Toto Dance^^-
piru boti piru
laiakuru boti laiakuru
(h)e t ewe lomuru
e tcalal lomuru
wile tcalal lomuru
o ura boti (2)
o uto pele were (2)
eura pele piuto
we tatcu uto
we apatcu uto
we labatcu uto
(h) eura pele huyaLa (2)
piLa pele lomuto
peleno t ewe (2)
weyusa tcu weyusa
pima o uru
Except for laba, older brother, this speech contains no words not
found in the preceding ones : we uto in lines 17-19 is evidently equi
valent to we(ij)u-to. This identity of phraseological material is signi
ficant for Wintun oratory. The speaker s freedom lies chiefly in mak
ing a different random arrangement of the same words. That a Toto
speech should so closely parallel the Hesi speeches, need not surprise,
in view of the Toto being only a modern substitute for one of the two
annual Hesi performances.
THE HAND GAME
The "hand" or "grass" game, 133 often played by the Wintun as
an adjunct to the Hesi, runs as follows.
132 Phonograph record 14-1496, Odock-Kroeber transcription.
133 Mr. Stewart Culin mentions this Wintun game, giving its native name as
dam, in his Games of the North American Indians, Eep. Bur. Am. Ethn., xxiv,
1919] Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony 483
Two pairs of cylindrical bones from two to two and a half inches
in length and half an inch in diameter are used. One of each pair
is wound about its middle with string or sinew in order to mark it.
With these bones is required a considerable quantity of finely chopped
grass or, if this is not available, straw.
The tally of the game is kept by means of twelve sticks about eight
or ten inches in length. These at the start are held by what may be
called a tally keeper or overseer of the game, called koimeru. His
name is the same as that of the fire tender of the dance house, and
ordinarily the same individual serves both offices. His fee for this
service is a portion, usually about ten per cent, of the stakes.
A large mat or blanket is ordinarily spread on each side of a
middle ground which is perhaps five to eight feet across, and on each
of these mats two players kneel, sitting on their heels. Each is pro
vided with a quantity of the chopped grass, and each usually has with
him one or more charm stones which he inserts under his mat for good
luck. The tally keeper kneels or sits at a point midway between the
two sets of players and at a little distance back, where he can see both
sides as the game progresses.
He at first holds the twelve counters and the four bones with which
the game is to be played. In case it is a game between residents on one
side and visitors on the other, the visitors are always given the bones
first. If it is played between two sets of visitors, or two sets of resi
dents, priority is arranged by lot. The players of the holding side
take each a marked and an unmarked bone and roll them between their
palms for a minute or two, singing meanwhile their gambling song
and usually spitting upon the bones as they roll them. They then take
up in each hand a quantity of the chopped grass and hide each of the
bones in a small bundle of it. The hands are now passed back of the
body and the two bundles of grass rolled back and forth rapidly from
one hand to another. Often the bundles are brought to the front
again and shuffled there as rapidly as possible. The purpose is to con
fuse the opposing side, whose object it is to guess in which hand the
marked bone of each player remains.
All this time the shufflers sing their individual gambling songs
kosl mull) ; although frequently only one of a pair of players actu
ally sings an air, the other accompanying him with a more monotonous
burden. Some players start with an air when they first take the
bones, but upon burying these in the rolls of grass their song is
reduced to a sort of low chant or hum, which is kept up until the guess
484 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 14
of the opposite side is finally made. If the guess is correct and the
player loses, he sings again in a low voice; or in case the guess is
incorrect and he wins, he breaks out wildly into the same air. During
all this rolling and preparing for the guess, the body is kept swinging
These are the words of a gambling song, which calls on the stakes
to come to the player :
hima mi weni-hiya hima you come
kay-uro mi weni-hiyo walking you come
Lube mi weni-hiya net you come 134
Finally, when the player holding the bones is fully prepared, he
places his right hand in front of him, and his left at the small of his
back. The guesser meanwhile, for only one person of the opposing
side guesses at a time, has struck his chest with his left fist several
times, and swung his right arm at full length in front of him, point
ing his right forefinger four times at the opposing side. Finally,
when the rollers of the bones signify their readiness for the guess by
placing their hands in the proper position, he points or snaps his
fingers toward them and cries out his guess. If, however, he is not
satisfied with the rolling and unprepared to guess, he gives a different
call and the rollers must then shuffle the bones again before he is
obliged to guess.
The positions may be as follows, x indicating the marked and o
the unmarked bones.
Right Left Right Left
X O X O
X O X
O X X
X O O X
Another position is now and then used : both bones in one hand.
Since only the position of the marked bone counts, this device does not
alter the effect of the guess.
As the guesser finally points and calls his guess, the two players
open their hands. If he has guessed both of them correctly, the bones
pass to his side, and one of the former shufflers now becomes the
guesser. If he has guessed incorrectly on both bones, the tally keeper
pays two counters to the shufflers and they retain the bones and resume
hiding them. If the guesser is correct on only one of the bones, the
1919] Barrett: The Wintun Hesi Ceremony 485
shuffler whom he has guessed stops playing, but no counters are passed,
since the correct guess offsets the incorrect one. The surviving shuffler
rolls the bones again and a new guess is made on his hands. If this
second guess is incorrect, the tally keeper pays out one counter. The
guessing is continued for the one outstanding bone, at the cost of a
counter for each miss, until it is found. Both players of the original
shuffling side having now been eliminated, the bones pass to the
guessers, and the game proceeds as before. The tally keeper pays out
for all incorrect guesses until all twelve of his counters are gone, after
which payment for misses is made directly by the guessers to the
The bones and counters may go back and forth from one side to
the other for a considerable time. The game is won when one side
possesses all twelve counters. The winners then divide the stakes,
after the tally keeper s deduction. Anyone except the tally keeper
may bet. A large number frequently join, each piece of property or
coin laid down being matched by the opposing side. Custom rather
expects any proffered bet to be met, although part is sometimes with
drawn if the opponents have difficulty in accumulating a like stake.
The guessing in this game is usually done by one or the other of
the players themselves, but sometimes a side-better, reported to be
skilful or lucky, acts as guesser.
EXPLANATION OF PLATES
Fig. 1. The Wintun village of Let in Cortina Valley, Colusa County, Cali
Fig. 2. Director s assistant- placing the rain and food fetishes (recent
type) of the Hesi ceremony on the roof of the dance house.
Fig. 3. Moki performing dance about the high pole in front of the dance
house. This pole with its banner seems to be a recent innovation under Itole
or ghost dance influence.
Fig. 4. Moki performing ceremonial dance about the feasting table and
poles used in the Hesi.
UNIV. CALIF. PUBL. AM. ARCH. ETHN. VOL, 14 [BARRETT] PLATE 22
Fig. 1. Fire dancers returning to the dance house after the plunge in the
creek which follows the fire or sweat dance.
Fig. 2. Visitors from the Sacramento river region entering the dance house
on their arrival.
Fig. 3. Tuya ("big head") dancers approaching the dance house.
Fig. 4. Tuya dancers, with their tcelitu, standing in front of the dance house.
[ 488 J
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